There are occasions when I think that class titles/descriptions are not only justified, but required. The most obvious example, of course, is any workshop where a student has to choose between classes at the same time. Instead of only the dance form and instructor name, the class description allows students to create a curriculum that suits their weaknesses and strengths. Then, there are times when the class titles are not truly useful, but provide a feeling of security- for instance, at a beginners' workshop, or an intermediate workshop, with only one track. A basic, very vague topic is easy to stick to, while still providing the instructor with enough room to alter the class plan to fit the students' needs. (One class on technique, one class on musicality, one class on moves[aka technique 2], one class on solo dancing. Sound familiar?)
However, there are some situations where class titles are simply impractical, such as BAB. Before Friday night, there's no way to know just what the levels will be. The instructors are from all over the country, as are the students, and with tango and blues dancers in one track, it's hard to predict what skills students will bring. Likewise, once instructors have talked, face to face, about what material they're teaching, the classes influence each other. All of our instructors at BAB made changes to their class descriptions (which I didn't publish); some changes were minor, but others completely scratched their original topics. The classes they taught were perfect for the levels, and flowed together way better than I could have hoped for. However, if students had received class titles that promised other classes, we either would have had to stick to the original classes, or have lied to the students by publishing classes that didn't get taught.
In a sense, my decision not to publish class titles was a decision made by a dedicated teacher, who acknowledges being a terrible saleswoman. I knew ahead of time that class titles were a plan, from which we were free to deviate. I'm not insensitive to the fact that students want class titles- I like knowing what's coming, too. But I refuse to give my students a plan that doesn't mean anything, purely to make students feel like they knew what was coming. Essentially, I refuse to pationize you. This was my way of saying, "this workshop will be a collection of classes that make sense together, and flow from one to the next, by teachers I believe in. Trust in your teachers, show up, and we'll teach you what we think is best." Because that's what the student-teacher relationship comes down to. We ask our instructors to give us overall topics for a workshop or series, but after that, we ask them to do their best, and teach us what we need to know.
So thank you, to the instructors who put together a top-rate set of workshops, and especially to all the students who put their trust in the instructors this weekend. I may or may not publish class descriptions at various events in the future, but know that at the end of the day, my job is to make good dancers, and make people love dance, and I'll do everything I can to succeed at that, in the most honest way I can.
I'd starve as a politician. And that's from someone who eats Ramen now.